Jim Wallis is a bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He serves as the chair of the Global Agenda Council on Faith for the World Economic Forum. President and CEO of Sojourners, Wallis contributes columns in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. He teaches a course at Georgetown University and lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Joy Carroll.
The Sins of Prosperity
“The proclamation is not a personal gospel, not a social gospel, not even a gospel of ‘both,’ but rather the gospel of a new order and a new people. The evangel is not merely a set of principles, ethics, and moral teachings. It is about a Person and the meaning of his coming” (16).
|Jim Wallis (Photo by J. Miner)|
Aligning with the Poor
“To live in radical obedience to Jesus Christ means to be identified with the poor and oppressed. If that is not clear in the New Testament, then nothing is” (94).The Jesus observed in Scripture aligns with the poor. Therefore, for a Christian seeking a Christ-like life, similar alignment with the poor must become realized.
Sadly, American citizens in the 1970s during the period of this book—and arguably even more in present times—were addicted to consumerism and in favor of a capitalistic process that exploited poorer nations. Wallis notes,
“We are finally coming to understand a discomforting but central fact of reality—the people of the nonindustrialized world are poor because we are rich; the poverty and brutalization of the wretched masses in maintained and perpetuated by our systems and institutions and by the way we live our lives” (84).As such, American Christians act decidedly “un-Christ-like” when they promote the practices that exploit the poor.
A Counter-Cultural Community
“If Jesus was so concerned about the danger of money and possessions in a simple agrarian society, how much more do we, living in the most affluent nation the world has ever known, need to break radically with the power and authority of money and possessions in our lives” (90).Clearly, the gospel promotes a lifestyle in discordance with American culture and a laissez-faire marketplace.
As a remedy, Wallis suggests that the church act as a revolutionary counter-cultural community. Wallis contends,
“The Christian community is the ultimate parallel institution, a group within a society constantly confronting all other groups with models of life and hope while demonstrating the possibility of human community” (135).The church, then, functions as an alternative to the powerful institutions of culture. Within a community, Christians find the solidarity necessary to seek justice for the poor and oppressed. With the early Christian community in the book of Acts as an example, Wallis believes that Christians can unite in order to break the trends of consumption, share everything in common, promote justice for the poor and exploited, and break in the Kingdom of God.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5
Posted by: Donovan Richards